Police ramp up efforts in search for missing mother

Missing woman

Until Friday, two days after a 25-year-old mother’s disappearance, police “haven’t had a really good geographic area for searches” in the case of missing Hollister resident Heather Carroll, said interim Police Chief David Westrick. But Westrick indicated Friday that investigators – including a search and rescue unit brought in from the sheriff’s office – had begun narrowing their efforts to specific locations.

Westrick would not release sensitive details in the case such as the location or locations of official searches, but did indicate investigators are honing in on leads.  

“Until really today,” he said Friday, “we haven’t had a really good geographic area for searches. We have been trying to obtain that for the last two days.”

On Friday, police received help from the San Benito County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Unit. They are joined by authorities from the FBI, Department of Justice and other surrounding agencies in the effort to find Carroll, a mother who was reported missing Wednesday and was last seen dropping off her young boy at Ladd Lane School that morning.

Police became immediately concerned about her disappearance due to circumstances that “added up” – how she failed to pick up her child and others at the school, her routinely prompt nature, and calls to her cell phone that went unanswered, Westrick said.

“She’s a mom. She’s a daughter. She’s a wife. A lot of people care about her,” he said.

Adding to that concern was the discovery at 2:10 a.m. Thursday of Carroll’s sport utility vehicle, a tan Sequoia found engulfed in flames near Enterprise Road and Glenview Drive. The DOJ has done all of the forensics work so far, said Westrick, who is awaiting results. He would not confirm if investigators found any evidence in the vehicle, such as blood, pointing to a crime committed against Carroll.

“It’s too early to tell on any investigative leads,” he responded.

Asked if he believes a crime was committed against Carroll, Westrick said he did not know.

“Obviously, there’s arson,” he said. “I don’t know. I don’t know. I guess you need to draw your own conclusions on the burning car.”

The chief said police spent all day Thursday with the DOJ processing the vehicle. He also has talked with the missing woman’s family members. He said they were tired and anxious, but did not express concern about any specific individuals connected to Carroll.

“No – they’re worried about their daughter. They want her home safely. They’re great people. They really are.”

Investigators have interviewed many friends and family, including Carroll’s husband.

“We’ve talked to him,” Westrick said. “He’s been with us the entire time.”

The chief said police have not focused on any individuals as potential suspects.

“It’s too early to get into suspects,” he said. “My focus right now, and our whole focus, is to locate this young lady and bring her back to her family.”

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